Eggs 101: Are Brown Eggs Healthier Than White? Nutritional Differences in Eggs

Written By: Gloria Tsang, RD

Title: Founding Registered Dietitian

Alumni: University of British Columbia

Last Updated on:

The egg section in your grocery store is stocked with many varieties of eggs. Some specialty eggs appear to be healthier than the regular white eggs. Are they worth the extra money?

The Difference in Egg Yolk Color

Egg yolk color is determined by the type of feed a hen eats. The color of a yolk does not indicate egg quality, freshness, or nutritional value.

  • A wheat-based diet will produce a pale yellow yolk
  • A corn or alfalfa-based diet yields a darker yellow yolk.

The Difference in Egg Shell Color

Eggshell color is determined by the breed of the hen.

  • Brown-shelled eggs may come from White Plymouth Rocks, Barred Plymouth Rocks, Rhode Island Reds chickens.
  • White-shelled eggs may come from White Leghorn, Ancona, Polish chickens.

The Difference in Grades

In supermarkets, some eggs have been graded. The most common grades we came across are Grade AA and Grade A, although Grade B eggs exist. Grades indicate quality, not nutrition or safety levels.

  • Grade AA eggs have shells that are clean and unbroken, with an air cell bubble not more than 1/8 inch, and a clear and thick egg white.
  • Grade A eggs have shells that are also clean and unbroken, with an air cell bubble between 1/8 and 3/16 inch, and a clear and reasonably thick egg white.
  • Grade B eggs have shells that may be slightly stained, an air cell bubble larger than 3/16 inch, and thin or watery egg white that may have blood spots.
Different types of eggs and nutritional values

Nutritional Facts of Eggs

One large boiled egg (50g, white-shelled or brown-shelled) provides:

  • Calories: 78
  • Fat: 5 g
  • Saturated Fat: 1.6 g
  • Cholesterol: 187 mg
  • Carbohydrate: 0.6 g
  • Fiber: 0 g
  • Protein: 6 g
  • Choline: 147 mg
  • Vitamin B12: 0.55 ug
  • Lutein + zeaxanthin: 176 ug
  • Vitamin D: 43.5 IU

Egg Varieties

  • Omega 3 enhanced eggs are from hens fed a diet of flax seed or fish oils. Omega-3 enhanced eggs contain more omega-3 fatty acids and Vitamin E than regular eggs. An independent test conducted by the CBC TV show Marketplace found that omega-3 enhanced eggs contain approximately 7 times more omega-3 fatty acids than regular white eggs.
  • Organic eggs are produced by hens fed certified organic grains without most conventional pesticides and fertilizers. Growth hormones and antiobiotics are also prohibited for this designation class. Organic eggs have the same nutritional content, fat or cholesterol as regular eggs.
  • Free-Run or Cage-free eggs are produced by hens that are able to move about the floor of the barn and have access to nesting boxes and perches. The nutrient content of these eggs is the same as that of regular eggs.
  • Free-Range eggs are produced in a similar environment as cage-free eggs but hens have access to outdoor runs as well. The nutrient content of these eggs is the same as that of regular eggs.
  • Processed eggs such as liquid egg whites or dried egg whites are regular eggs broken by special machines then pasteurized before being further processed and packaged into a liquid, frozen or dried form. Processed egg products may also contain preservatives, flavor or color additives.

Eggs Are Nutrition Powerhouse

Eggs are a nutrition powerhouse. Rich in folate, Vitamin B12, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, eggs also provides a good source of lutein, a type of an antioxidant beneficial to eye health.

If you are concerned about animal welfare, you may look for United Egg Producers Certified Eggs. These eggs come from hens living in humane conditions with attention to living environment, healthcare , and treatment. More information about the UEP program here.

Nutrition 101

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1 thought on “Eggs 101: Are Brown Eggs Healthier Than White? Nutritional Differences in Eggs”

  1. Enjoyed your article on “Eggs 101″….
    Have two questions….
    Does egg chemistry, nutrirional contents, fats, etc. … significantly vary between the various common breeds used for egg production in the U.S. ?
    Which are the most popular/common breeds used for U.S. egg production and do annual production rates significantly vary amongst those breeds ?

    Thank you very much for any light you shed on these questions.

    Patrick Duncan

    Reply

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